All the best for the International Year of Evaluation 2015! No doubt you are already involved or are looking for opportunities to contribute to our profession in the upcoming year. Your own professional association, IDEAS, will participate in the International Year in various ways. First of all, the fourth Global Assembly will take place in October in Thailand. The theme of the Global Assembly will be “Evaluating Sustainable Development”, recognizing that in September the United Nations will decide on the Sustainable Development Goals for the coming decades. These goals will no longer be just for developing countries, as most of the Millennium goals were, but will be aspirational goals for all countries in the world. This signifies a crucial shift in thinking about development, focusing on whether development can be made sustainable and equitable for future generations in all countries in the world. While poverty, gender, equity and underdevelopment remain in the core of our concerns, the world has changed dramatically, calling for new ways and means for international cooperation. The Global Assembly will aim to mobilize the experiences and insights of IDEAS members to contribute to our thinking of how evaluation as a profession can help bring evidence to politicians, policy makers, stakeholders, the private sector and civil society to solve some of the enduring problems of our time.
Secondly, we hope to contribute in various ways to professionalization. IDEAS will open up the possibility of youth (or young professional) membership, with a reduced fee up to the age of 30. A special initiative will be to explore mentoring possibilities, under the leadership of Board member Awuor Ponge. This will not only include traditional mentoring, but also new forms like reverse mentorship, where older members can benefit from youth members in for example exploring social media (how to use a twitter account…). The thematic interest groups will be re-energized in the near future, as they need to play an important role in the mobilization of members for the Global Assembly. International collaboration, like the EvalGender+ initiative in which IDEAS is an active partner, will continue to be important. Furthermore, IDEAS will continue on the path towards qualification of evaluators, in close cooperation with regional and national associations, where they exist. Through these services we hope to stimulate South-South, South-North and North-South collaboration and aim to provide the global perspective that our profession needs in these times of global challenges.
Thirdly, we hope to present a new website to you in the very near future. This website will offer more possibilities for interaction, including easier connections to social media, and possibilities for blogging and discussion amongst members. Part of the re-energizing of thematic interest groups will be to create space for electronic publishing, where contributions of members will be peer reviewed and published for the benefit of our members, the global evaluation community and of course the authors as well. We hope to have more news in the near future!
In the meantime the International Year of Evaluation has started, and there are many activities planned. EvalParners (http://www.mymande.org/evalpartners
) keeps track of conferences, meetings, seminars and workshops – visit their website to see what is happening in your neighborhood! In 2014 global consultations were held on the Global Evaluation Agenda 2016-2020. Our Vice President, Sue Tamondong, moderated one of the four key questions for that agenda. The draft agenda will be discussed at EvalYear events and the draft agenda will be passed on to new events and finalized at the end of November in a meeting at the parliament in Nepal. The Global Assembly will also play its role in that regard: a special session will be organized to allow IDEAS members to provide an input.
The challenges we are facing as evaluation community are great. They are partly external: the gradual shift towards global problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss, depletion of natural resources – issues that countries no longer can solve on their own – leading to the challenge to evaluate global problems locally, or evaluate local problems in a global context. And for another part they are internal: the increasing professionalization where we are supposed to be fully up to date on the latest evaluation tools and methods – an explosion of paradigms and analytical tools – as well as increasing demands that we demonstrate our professionalism through credentialing or qualification. More can and should be said – new actors now dominate international cooperation – a new balance of power has emerged in the world, with the BRICS countries promising to break the aid monopoly of the “developed” countries. This all makes for a heady mix of issues to discuss and work on, culminating the 2015 Global Assembly of IDEAS in Thailand!
IDEAS remains more or less a “shoe-string” organization. Apart from our dedicated and professional administration, we are all volunteers and will get more out of IDEAS if we put more of our own efforts in. The Global Assembly will provide an opportunity to this, but some of the new ideas such as mentoring and publication of IDEAS’ papers will create possibilities for everybody to contribute.
Wishing you all the best for EvalYear 2015,
Rob D. van den Berg